The National, Wednesday July 11th, 2012
By YVONNE HAIP
COUNTING of the 81 Nipa-Kutubu ballot boxes held back on the advice of Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen will go ahead, according to local officials.
Provincial election steering committee chairman Dr Bravy Koensong said counting would proceed because there was no evidence that polling had failed in the electorate.
Koensong, who is from the area, said all reports on returns from polling officials had not indicated any malpractices and complaints.
He said assistant returning officers and presiding officers had no evidence of irregularities in polling which candidates had raised with Trawen.
Three ballot boxes were destroyed after disputes at polling venues but Koensong said polling had generally been peaceful.
As committee chairman, he had made it his business to inspect how polling was progressing in the electorate on polling day.
He said the returning officer, based on the report on returns, had most likely come up with the decision to allow counting to continue.
The counting of the 81 ballot boxes for the electorate had been put on hold last week by Trawen
In a letter to returning officer John Harinol, the commission said it had received numerous objections from candidates and scrutineers concerning various ballot boxes from the Nipa, Poroma and Nembi Plateau local level governments.
Trawen said although a response had been given on the allegations, counting should be put on hold and the boxes to remain the container, until further instructions.
Regional seat candidates Joseph Kobol, Jerry Kewai, Fred Malo Tomo, Vincent Mirupasi and Dickson Tasi said the ballot boxes for Nipa Basin, Nembi Plateau and Poroma LLGs were disputed.
They said Trawen had issued the directive after receiving complaints that unauthorised presiding officers who were supporters of a particular regional candidate came in a day before polling began and conducted polling in the 73 council wards of the three LLG’s by marking the ballot papers themselves.
But Koensong said he had voted in Poroma and had signed a ballot paper himself and was not aware of any misconduct in the electorate.